Saturday, January 13, 2007

Salt sea foam

The stygian gloom and the gales are still with us, and the sea looks nothing like the pic I posted yesterday. Rather, it is a grey, turbulent beast, with great curtains of spray whipped off the top of the breaking waves and blown wildly off to dissipate in the wind. Today, walking along the coast road, I was bent into the wind and saw nothing but the road at my feet until I'd had enough and turned my back on the gale. Liberated from the rain that had been pelting my face like lead shot, I was able to look at the surf pounding in on a south-ish gale, and from this comes my question for today:

What do you call the froth left behind on the shore by the receding waves? Like the froth on an abandoned cappuccino, it blows away in little puffs, shredding itself among the rocks. And what causes it? What is it made of?

I would love there to be a romantic, literary sort of word for this - but will settle for science.


  1. Anonymous1:21 PM

    We get this too on the sea road going into Drummore. My mum, when she lasted visited, called it 'spume'. I'm not sure what causes it exactly.

  2. I concur - spume it is.

  3. Yup - I think it's spume. Sounds nearly as nasty as sputum. Or spew. Or sprue. Why is this combination of sounds so unpleasant?

  4. Anonymous11:42 AM

    I've been sent here by Liz. I'm sure it's spume as well, and I think it's an aerosol made in rough weather which may also have bits of material like diatom shells mixed in.

    Your pictures take me back to living on Cumbrae - I too have sung in the Cathedral of the Isles! One immediate difference I found living on the east coast is that you don't spend the entire winter walking at a slant into the wind.